The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

  • MR GUY SEBASTIAN PARKER (affirmed).

  • Good afternoon, Mr Parker.

  • The authority has provided a statement to the Inquiry. It's the statement of Lord Smith. Could I just ask you first of all to give your full name to the Inquiry?

  • Guy Sebastian Parker.

  • Can I confirm that you've read the contents of Lord Smith's statement and that you are satisfied that its contents are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • Can you tell us first of all who you are?

  • I'm the chief executive of the ASA.

  • I understand it's not been possible for Lord Smith to come.

  • That's right. He apologises.

  • Thank you very much for stepping in.

  • Now, what is interesting here, just again so I can give you the structure of where we're going to go, what's interesting is the authority has different regulatory approaches within the same system. If I can call them true self-regulation, co-regulation with Ofcom and a third system which relays a form of self-regulation with statutory underpinning the OFT system, and I'll come back to explore the models with you briefly and then perhaps ask you about the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches as you see them. Is that fair?

  • First of all, I'm going to start with a brief overview of the ASA system. I'll start with the remit. Tell me if I fairly and accurately summarise this. The ASA's remit covers advertisements and other marketing communications -- I should say let's look at the statement at the same time. It's paragraph 2.4.1 onwards. It's not just broadcast advertising, which is what we've been discussing with Ofcom. It covers all sorts of other advertising. It includes newspapers and magazines and even door drops and all that sort of thing?

  • The structure of the ASA system, I'll try and summarise that, the regulatory system -- UK advertising regulatory system is split into three parts and overall I'll call it the ASA system.

  • First of all, the CAP, the Committee of Advertising Practice, that writes the codes and is itself split into broadcast and non-broadcast, which writes broadcast and non-broadcast codes, would that be fair?

  • The codes are administered by the ASA itself, which is split into the ASA broadcast and non-broadcast as well, but is recognised generally as one body. It has no formal legal or statutory powers and works by persuasion and consensus.

  • Thirdly, there's the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, ASBOF, and the Broadcast Board of Finance, BASBOF, which raises fund to pay for this system, but I'm going to safely ignore them for today's purposes. Would that be the three elements of the ASA system?

  • Lord Smith told us but by adoption you tell us that the system is predicated on this particular separation between writing the codes, administering the codes and funding the system.

    Can we turn to membership of the Committee of Advertising Practice, and remind ourselves that that is the body that writes and updates the codes, both broadcast and non-broadcast. You explain in your statement at 2.3.4 that the aim of the code is to uphold the principle that all advertising wherever it appears should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.

    The membership of that committee is set out over the page at 2.3.5. It consists of trade associations representing the three main parts of the advertising industry, namely advertising agencies, media owners and advertisers, and representatives of broadcasters licenced by Ofcom sit directly on the broadcast committee as opposed to being represented solely through trade associations.

    I don't know if you heard when Ofcom were describing the membership of their board they explained that they had no serving industry figures on their board, but your committee is made up, both in broadcast and non-broadcast committees, are made up of industry figures. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage in your view?

  • It's an advantage of the self-/co-regulatory system that we operate for advertising because that's one of the key ways by which the advertising and media businesses can contribute to the system, by writing the rules. Now, those rules which appear in the advertising codes, the broadcast and the non-broadcast codes, are subject to full public consultation, and indeed the last code review, which occurred in 2009, culminated in 2009, generated thousands of responses when the codes were publicly consulted upon.

    But yes, it's appropriate to ensure the industry buy into the system. The other key way in which the industry contributes to this system is, of course, by funding it.

  • Do conflicts ever arise, is that a particular problem which ever arises?

  • The ASA and ultimately the ASA council are tasked with administering the codes and you may be intending to get on to them in a minute.

  • They are the independent part of the system. The chairman is independent, the majority of the members of the ASA council are independent, and there is never any undue influence upon the ASA council by any CAP members.

  • All right. I was going to come on to the ASA membership because they do administer the code, as you've explained. That includes complaints handling functions?

  • And the council decides whether the codes have been breached. Who appoints the chairman?

  • The Advertising Standards Boards of Finance, so ASBOF and BASBOF appoint the chairman in consultation with the Advertising Association, which is an organisation that represents advertising and media businesses, in consultation with the Secretary of State for the appropriate government department -- that might be plural because BIS and DCMS both have an interest in advertising, and in consultation with Ofcom.

  • Who appoints the council members?

  • How is their independence assured?

  • The majority of the ASA council members are independent members appointed by the chairman following public advertisement and following the Nolan principles. And they are not allowed to have worked in the advertising or marketing businesses, nor are they allowed to have -- to hold or have held any significant interest in such businesses.

  • So how do you ensure expertise?

  • Since I've been at the ASA, which is coming on for 20 years, the ratio of advertising members, industry members, to independent members has been 2 to 1 -- sorry, 1 to 2. A third of the members are industry members.

  • And that's how one gets the expertise from the industry.

    Of the four members who are industry members, four of 12, two of them come from a advertiser background, a client background, one comes from an advertising agency background and one comes from a media background, but they're not there to represent those constituencies, they're there to bring their experience to bear.

  • The majority are independent members?

  • Eight are independent.

  • I turn on in the statement to 2.5 onwards. At 2.5.4 you explain:

    "The system works across the spectrum of self-/co-regulation, from near pure-self-regulation in most matters relating to harm, offence and social responsibility in non-broadcast advertising, through self-regulation backed by a legal framework in most matters relating to unfair, misleading or aggressive advertising ... to full co-regulation in broadcast advertising with Ofcom ..."

    Then you set out some examples of how this system has a mixed self-/co-regulatory approach.

    It's fair to say -- I'll come back to the examples -- it's fair to say that the ASA system sits at different points on the regulatory system depending on what is being regulated?

  • Can I take you through the examples very briefly. The first is pure self-regulation. That's for matters relating to harm, offence and social responsibility in non-broadcast advertising. And that's you say one of pure self-regulation and the ASA administers the advertising codes without recourse to legal backstop at all.

    You've already explained to us that the ASA has no legal or statutory powers so how does it persuade people to take part?

  • I'm not sure persuading people to take part is the right way of looking at it, because the advertising codes that we administer are mandatory. We will apply them whether or not a company who is advertising professes to be a member of one of the trade associations that is a part of the ASA system.

  • How we persuade them to comply with the decisions that we reach is really covered in the sanctions section of my chairman's submission, which is 276.5 onwards.

  • We have a variety of sanctions that we can deploy even in cases where we have no statutory backstop.

  • The real point is that if the media groups won't take advertising that you've sanctioned, that you've said is inappropriate, that's the end of it, isn't it?

  • It's certainly the end of it if the advertiser concerned is using a medium -- a paid for medium to distribute its ad, and that's a very powerful sanction.

  • So that's why in one sense it's voluntary, but in another sense it's not voluntary at all. The advertisers want to get their advertising into the space they want it and if the people who hold the spaces won't carry the adverts because you've said there's something wrong with them, that's the end of the game.

  • Yes, although I wouldn't say it's voluntary at all, even in circumstances other than that, because if an advertiser is distributing advertising leaflets, which do fall under the advertising codes but which can't be stopped by that media refusal sanction because there is no media gatekeeper, they're just handing out leaflets, we will still apply the code to advertising leaflets that appear to breach the code and we will still publish adjudications against the advertiser, which often results in them being named and shamed in articles, for example, in media coverage, and can be a very powerful deterrent of itself.

  • It's a deterrent for a slightly different reason, because then companies employing that technique won't want the agents of whoever is preparing this material for them to do the job because far from getting positive publicity from the work they're trying to do, they're going to get negative publicity.

  • Yes, broadly speaking that's right. We're talking about often small companies here. They may well not use advertising agencies to produce their advertising leaflets. They will just produce them themselves. But the deterrent of adverse publicity, perhaps in the local newspaper, is still a reasonable deterrent. I won't pretend it's a game changer in every case, it isn't, but it is a good deterrent. And the fact that that small company is not a member of any trade body, is not publishing its ad in a newspaper, for example, that's a member of a trade association, that it is a part of the ASA system, that doesn't matter. The ASA will still take action, it will still apply the code and it will still publish adjudications against misleading, harmful or offensive advertising.

  • I understand that, but you have to be careful when you say it's not voluntary. You'll carry on, but whether the ultimate publisher of the advert takes any notice is a matter for him or it.

  • Yes, but that's a compliance issue, I would suggest, rather than one of it being a voluntary system. I mean, I am very clear that this is not a voluntary system. It is voluntary to contribute funding towards the system, which is another matter which we might get on to later, but you cannot choose not to comply with the advertising codes without consequences.

  • Without consequences, yes.

  • Consequences are generally industry-led sanctions, as you've explained. But ultimately if you had somebody who said "I don't like this ASA system at all, I don't like the code, I am just going to publish", they wouldn't withdraw formally necessarily but they might say "I'm going to publish, print my ads" and put them through all the doors if I feel like it.

  • In that sense that would still be a possibility?

  • It would still be a possibility what, that the --

  • That they could do that without fear of --

  • In defiance of the ASA? Oh yes, and some try, from time to time.

  • And there's no statutory --

  • There's no statutory backstop; correct.

  • Fine. I then turn to self-regulation with a legal backstop. This is 2.5.6 of the statement. You say the ASA is recognised by the OFT as the established means for regulating misleading and comparative ads in non-broadcast media in the UK. On the rare occasions when you are unable to secure compliance with the code you can ask the OFT to consider taking action under the CPRs or the BPRs, the business protection regulations.

    "The OFT can seek undertakings from a company that it will change its ads, it can also seek injunctions from the court to prevent companies from making misleading claims in their ads."

  • Because there's the whole consumer protection stuff, which actually would cope with the advert that you've just mentioned, or may do, depending on what they've done wrong.

  • Yes, it would do if it was an issue that fell under the CPRs or the BPRs.

  • But that's not co-regulation because of course the OFT doesn't regulate advertisers. It's a specific function that it can carry out in certain specific circumstances. It genuinely is self-regulation with a legal backstop.

  • Yes, I think most people would agree with that although these are not precisely defined terms.

  • No they are not but just the best we can trying to come up with a term that works.

    Then we have self-regulation with legal underpinning. This is the Gambling Act 2005. You're going to have to explain this for me.

  • I'm not so sure it's very different from the previous category, actually. The Gambling Commission under the Gambling Act 2005 took on various powers to regulate gambling, not just gambling advertising but gambling across the board, and one of the things it fairly quickly did was to all intents and purposes contract out the day to day regulation of gambling advertising to the ASA system in much the same way as Ofcom had a year or two before with broadcast advertising regulation.

    I wouldn't read too much into the fact that one is referred to in Lord Smith's submission as being self-regulation with a illegal underpinning and one is referred to as being self-regulation with a legal backstop. It actually amounts to much the same thing.

  • Final we have proper co-regulation and this is the formal co-regulatory partnership with Ofcom for broadcast advertising. Ofcom remains the statutory regulator but has contracted out the day-to-day regulation to the authority and it will only intervene in certain specified circumstances. I asked Mr Richards about this but am I correct in saying that essentially Ofcom doesn't interfere with the day-to-day work of the ASA along as the undertakings and processes and targets in the memorandum of understanding are met. Would that be true, practically speaking?

  • And the memorandum also seeks to respect the self-regulating nature of the arrangements, and notes that although it has certain powers, ie forcing changes to the code, it doesn't normally seek to do so on the basis that you are the "self" in self-regulation.

  • But of course, it can assist with compliance. It can assist in ensuring compliance with decisions because you don't have the statutory powers of sanction, and we've seen the DM Television ruling of Ofcom, also the Venus TV ruling behind tab 23, we don't need to turn it up. These are situations where you refer complaints to Ofcom. I want to ask you first of all Ofcom describe the system as working very well. Would you agree?

  • I'd agree with that.

  • Would you agree with their assessment that they very rarely have to intervene, either to make changes to the code or to impose sanctions?

  • Yes, those are very different things but it's true on both accounts. I can think of only one example which Ed Richards referred to where they intervened on the code writing side, and that was a fairly exceptional circumstance in itself, because Ofcom had already started to consult on HFSS rules and in the end they directed BCAP to use what was then the Food Standards Agency's nutrient profiling model for the TV HFSS content rules which in fact BCAP had written. So it was a slightly complicated situation.

    On the sanctions side, I think we have referred seven broadcasters to them in the six or seven years since they contracted out responsibilities to us.

  • I guess I want to explore with you the extent to which you feel that you need the big stick of Ofcom. Is it useful? Does the fact that it exists mean that you're not robust as a genuinely independent regulator?

  • What's the authority's view on that?

  • It's useful, very useful. As with all sanctions, whether they are statutory sanctions or not, they are vital for ensuring that those who might be tempted to push the boundaries don't do so out of fear of what might happen if they did and the deterrent effect of sanctions, I'm convinced, secures a huge amount more compliance than the actual application of sanctions. If you have your sanctions right -- Ed Richards referred to an armoury of sanctions but if you have an escalating series of sanctions which can be applied, then what any good regulator or good self-regulator, good complaints handling body will do is make sure they threaten the sanction before they apply it and we tend to find certainly that eight or nine times out of ten if we threaten a sanction we get compliance. We don't have to deploy it.

  • Can I ask you about complaint handling in practice, please. First of all, do you actually need a complaint in order to intervene when a situation --

  • Turn to section 3.2.4 onwards. This is the section on complaints and investigations. You explain that the ASA considers complaints about breaches of the advertising codes from both industry and consumers. It says just one complaint can be enough to trigger an investigation. That rather suggested to me that you needed one complaint, but I think the correct answer is you don't need a complaint?

  • You can trigger an investigation whenever you like.

  • Under our own volition.

  • Exactly, of your own volition. You explain at 3.2.5 the number of complaints that you received about a certain number of advertisements and you explain that action led to about 10 per cent of the complaints -- well, I should say 2,226 ad campaigns being amended or withdrawn, and that complaints from the public represent 96 per cent of the complaints received. I suppose that begs the question who else complains?

  • Competitors and other organisations with a particular interest in a matter who we would regard as non-public complaints. The processes that we apply to handling complaints from public or non-public parties are very similar. If you're a non-public party, you can't be anonymous and you have to declare legal action on the matter in hand.

  • Complaints are then examined carefully. If they do bring to light a possible breach of the code then they're sent off for a thorough investigation. You say this:

    "All decisions on formally investigated ads are made by the independent ASA Council. ASA Council members must withdraw from the discussion if there is a conflict of interest."

    That probably answers my next question about independence in relation to adjudications. You then say:

    "Adjudications set out a summary of the advertiser's response to the complaint."

    And that's all. There's also then a system of independent review and you explain that someone who's not happy can request a review by the independent review of the ASA adjudications, currently Mr Phillips, who can refer cases back to the council including with his recommendation on changes to the council's original decision.

    Is there anything else, before I come to touching on broadcast complaint handling procedures and non-broadcast complaint handling procedures, is there anything you'd like to add to that summary?

  • Only one thing and that's you referred to the fact in 3.2.5 that we -- that our action led to 2,226 ad campaigns being amended or withdrawn. The majority of those were as a result of the 25,000, just over, complaints about the just over 1,300 ads, but a significant number of them, around 850 of them in 2010, were the result of monitoring and compliance action that's summarised in 3.2.11.

  • Yes. I want to ask you about broadcast complaint handling procedures. Behind tab 14 you'll find the guidance on this. If I can ask you about first of all informal or formal investigation procedures, paragraph 24 onwards, there's a choice between a formal or informal investigation procedure. Can you assist us with the differences between why one would choose a formal and why one would choose an informal investigation procedure?

  • The judgment is ours, that's the first important point to make.

  • The general rule of thumb is if the issue is relatively minor and clearcut, then we'll be minded to try to resolve it informally, and paragraph 24 explains other circumstances that might affect our decision as to whether to attempt to resolve a case informally or whether it ought to be resolved formally. I'm happy to go into the detail, if you'd like.

  • On the second page -- well, paragraph 24 is on two pages but on the second page, page 6, the set of criteria, the decision to resolve cases informally is likely only to be taken in certain circumstances and you set out certain criteria which you apply?

  • Is there a risk that informality can lead to complacency?

  • I think if we weren't to apply the criteria as they're written, if we weren't to get the balance right, then yes, I think there would be that risk. As with all of these things, it is a question of a balance. We now resolve more cases informally than we resolve formally, but in 2010 we still formally investigated and publicly adjudicated on over 600 cases. I think the number for informal cases is over 1,000, which gives you a rough idea of the ratio between the two.

    We have a responsibility to make sure that we don't unintentionally and inadvertently send a message to the advertising business that they can get away with it and just agree to provide an assurance and promise not to do it again and hope that the ASA will resolve it informally and try that time and time again, which is why one of the criterion is if there's a pattern of unwillingness or inability to comply with the code, if there have been more than a certain number of informal resolutions in the previous period, these are factors that we weigh up. We will have to weigh them up in conjunction with an assessment of how frequently the company advertises.

    Of course a big advertiser producing many, many ads, spending an awful lot of money on ad space and ad airtime is of course going to attract more complaints and just the law of probability tells you is going to be subject to more problems over a period of time because of human error and so on, so we need to take that into account, but the criteria are important and if we're consistent in applying them, there ought not to be that problem.

  • Can I turn to two final paragraphs of this -- maybe three final paragraphs of this guidance. Paragraph 35 on remedial action. Remembering that we are dealing with broadcast advertising cases which have the co-regulatory model with Ofcom. You say that if the ASA adjudicates that a breach has occurred but no referral to Ofcom is appropriate, then the letter of notification will inform parties of the necessary remedial action. Have you told us everything that you want to about the particular sanctions that the ASA can impose without referring to Ofcom?

  • Yes, although the sanctions that I referred to earlier are principally, not exclusively, non-broadcast.

  • That's what I thought.

  • The power of referral to Ofcom is not to be underestimated. This is a licence-based regulatory regime and broadcasters really do not want to lose their licence. Ed Richards referred to it in his testimony as being akin to the end of the world and it really is. So that does, I think without much doubt, make it easier for us to secure compliance on the broadcast side than it sometimes is on the non-broadcast side.

  • Paragraph 41 describes Ofcom sanctions. If obviously you think sanctions in a broadcast case should be imposed beyond your powers you can refer to Ofcom. How do you decide something is appropriate for referral?

  • Yes, the MOU between us and Ofcom goes into it in detail. It sets out four or five circumstances where I might want to refer a broadcaster to Ofcom. Let me see whether I can find them. It's on page 14, MOD100008684.

  • "Fails to comply fully and promptly with a decision of the ASA, fails to comply fully and promptly with a reasonable request of BCAP, demonstrates a repeated disregard for decisions of the ASA or reasonable requests of BCAP, and commits one or more code breaches of sufficient seriousness to warrant in ASA's opinion a statutory sanction."

    Thank you.

  • Can I move on to non-broadcast handling procedures fairly briefly. There's also a decision on whether there's a formal or informal investigation, where it's more serious in general terms there will be a formal investigation. Again there's an independent review but here there's not necessarily a statutory backstop to whom the ASA can refer to this case unless of course it falls within the CPRs and BPRs. To what extent to you find that you lack ultimate authority in those cases when you can't refer it to a statutory regulator?

  • It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen. It tends to happen with very, very small companies who are determined to carry on regardless. It often happens, actually, when people feel very, very passionately about what they're advertising, particularly if they're advertising a cause or an idea, and those -- advertising of that type of thing is covered by the non-broadcast advertising code, so you can imagine the circumstances. It might be a local campaign group who are campaigning against a proposed wind farm development and feel extremely strongly about the issue, and have put together a campaigning advertising leaflet and are handing it out in the neighbourhood, and it's sometimes difficult to enforce the advertising code against parties like that and we obviously have to weigh up in extreme circumstances whether or not it's worth us continuing to pursue it, given the size of the problem.

  • Does the Authority have a preference for co-regulation or self-regulation? Would it like to move, for example, to a model where it was consistently a co-regulator or self-regulator? Or does the current system work well, in your view?

  • I think it works well. One of the real advantages of the ASA system is the way it's evolved. You only have to look beneath the surface at this, at first sight, very complicated mix of different models within an over-arching model to see that it must be the product of a substantial amount of evolution over quite a long period of time responding to the different circumstances that apply in different areas, and trying to find the right checks and balances or incentives that work.

    I think we have a good record of doing that and maybe we will come on in a minute to talking about the recent changes to the ASA system whereby we've extended the non-broadcast code to cover a lot more advertising online, particularly on websites, where we've had to think really quite deeply about new sanctions that might work in that area because that's one area where there is no media middleman. Advertisers who are making claims about their own goods and services on their own websites are not going through a media gatekeeper, for want of a better word, so we have to find something, some leverage that can be applied against those who are incapable or unwilling to comply with the code.

  • The first of the three new sanctions that we've developed and have started using is an enhanced name-and-shame sanction. We have a section that's very well flagged on the ASA website that's called "Non-complying Digital Advertisers", and if companies refuse to comply, then we highlight them on that list. The threat of that sanction has already worked in a significant number of cases and has resulted in internet advertisers making changes to their websites that they were initially reluctant to make. I think there are 12 companies listed at the moment.

    The second of the new sanctions is to ask the search engines, who are now part of the ASA system, they are members of the Internet Advertising Bureau, which sits on the Committee of Advertising Practice, to ask the search engines to suspend any paid ads that link through to the bit of the website where the claims is that are in breach of the code are appearing, and again that's been used, I think, eight times since our remit extension in March last year, so eight times in just under a year, and has proved effective.

    The final of the three new sanctions for this online space is where we might run our own paid search campaign highlighting the non-compliance of a particular advertiser.

    We are fortunate in being a reasonably well-known regulator. Our website is linked to by a lot of other organisations and it is very frequently visited and consequently our ads appear quite high up search rankings. Our adjudications automatically appear quite high up search rankings, so this can a powerful sanction.

  • For your note, sir, there is a document behind tab 7 a document entitled "Extending the digital unit of the CAP code", which deals with all this in considerable detail, and new sanctions are described at 4.7 onwards.

  • So you can read that in your own time.

    I'll come on now to monitoring and compliance. Lord Smith says in his statement that you don't just wait for complaints to come in, you also place a significant emphasis on conducting a substantial monitoring programme. To what extent does the ASA collectively ensure that there is compliance of the code rather than sit back and wait for complaints and how does it do that?

  • There are a number of different ways. We have two compliance and monitoring teams and they carry out surveys of potentially problematic areas -- we tend to focus in on sectors or issues where we know there are problems -- and they will look at a large sample of ads and ascertain the compliance rate, but they will also pursue advertisers who have published ads who appear to break the rules.

    They will also act on obviously problematic ads which are drawn to our attention, either as a result of complaints we've received, where it would, in our view, be wrong for us to investigate, which might take some time, and allow an ad that is blatantly in breach of the code to carry on appearing, so they might step in and take immediate compliance action there.

    They will undertake what we call sector compliance. If the ASA has adjudicated against a company and the company says, not unreasonably, "It's a fair cop but everyone else in my sector is doing exactly the same thing", we take that seriously, it's not right that there shouldn't be a level playing field, and so the monitoring and compliance team may well undertake sector compliance and get in touch with the other companies, draw to their attention the appropriate adjudication and ask them for an assurance that they'll make changes to their ads. Those are some the cases in which we carry out this sort of activity.

  • We've just been discussing the problem of -- one of the problems of convergence. We've discussed the document at tab 7, "Extending the digital remit of the CAP code". You've explained that. Is there anything else that you'd like to say about convergence?

  • Only that it's been, in my opinion, the biggest and most important change to the ASA system since we took on responsibility for regulating broadcast ad regulation in late 2004 and it's led to a huge increase in our workload.

    The reason for that is not hard to see. It matters to people. A lot of people, the vast majority of whom are members of the public, are at the very least spending a lot of time looking at websites even if they are not necessarily buying goods and services through websites and they don't want to be misled particularly by advertising that appears on those websites in the same way they don't want to be misled by ads they see anywhere else. So there's a real demand for that and it's actually been an operational challenge for us because of the huge workload. We wonder whether it might be a jurisdictional challenge in a sense that it's not always easy to draw dividing lines between advertising claims on companies' own websites and other content.

    We spent a lot of time thinking about that in the run-up to the extension of our remit back in March last year. In fact, that hasn't proved to be the bugbear that we feared it might be.

  • The fact that you've been able to deal with that so seamlessly and effectively, as I'm sure you have, is that an advantage of self-regulation? Would that have been equally easy in a possible statutory regulation, with a statutory system in place?

  • I think that is an advantage of self-regulation, yes.

  • Finally, section 5 of this statement, you are asked about your views on strengths and weaknesses of the ASA system and you explain at 5.1 that in fact the system is often considered by policymakers as an example of best practice regulation and you explain that through your set-up and the way you exercise your functions you're able to meet the 10 best practice features of advertising self-regulation as defined by the European Advertising Standards Alliance and you set out what they are.

    I take it those are your submissions on the strengths of the Advertising Authority model. Is there anything you would want to add to those strengths?

  • No, I don't think so.

  • Are there any particular lessons that you think might be learned from the ASA model that could be applied to other -- that might be of interest or relevance to the Chairman in the context of this particular Inquiry?

  • Other than looking at what we regard as the important component parts of advertising self-regulation and inviting you to draw any conclusions that you might want to draw from those, no, not really. I certainly wouldn't presume to know what might be the best model for press regulation. There are undoubtedly similarities between the work that the PCC does and the work that the ASA does and there are similarities between the press and the advertising business, but there are a whole host of very important differences too.

  • Of course. Mr Parker, thank you very much, those are my questions.

  • Thank you. Mr Parker, thank you very much indeed and I thank you and Lord Smith for the statement that you made and the work you've done to put it all together. Thank you very much.

  • (The hearing adjourned until 10 o'clock the following day)